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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

2013 in Video Games

Like last year I kept track of my video gaming progress on the CheapAssGamer completed games log.

I was thinking for this year, maybe I’ll cross-post these as they happen on this site, but for now, here’s my 2013 gaming-in-review. My goal, once again, was to complete 40 games.

January (3):
iOS: RAGE - Rails FPS for the iPad. Kind of fun once you get the hang of it. Loads more achievements than I chased, which is good since there are only three levels. It almost feels like cheating to start with this. Just played through it because it was a big drive space hog I wanted to get rid of. 3/5
PC: Little Inferno - Platinum Rainbow Elite Status in the Tomorrow Corporation Loyalty Program achieved. I think I hoped there would be more videos, or a longer endgame. This was kind of fun, and better than people in the steam thread made it sound, but not nearly as wonderful as that kotaku review would suggest. 3/5
iOS: Devil's Attorney - Courtroom strategy kind of game I saw on some best-of-year lists. Gameplay is fine in bursts, and it got me through a dreadful open mic last night. Voice acting is good, but the writing is pretty terrible. Like if you had an uncle who wasn't funny, and he didn't think he was funny either, but someone told him he has to be funny for the kids and then he can go back to reading his Clive Cussler novels. 3/5

February (3):
iOS: Hundreds - iPad puzzle game. I thought the difficulty would ramp up until I just had to quit, but I made it through! 4/5
iOS: Biolab Disaster - I don't remember why this was on my phone. And now that I've seen it's 10 minutes of gameplay through to completion, it isn't. 3/5
iOS: Tiny Tower - I guess I would count it if I just played some DLC for an existing game. Tiny Tower added a few sets of new floors since I 'completed' it last year. I've collected all of those and all the new missions, and all but one perfect employee. Disappointed there weren't new costumes to go with the new floors though. (Update in May: They did another update, 8 more floors, 1 more costume, I'm caught up again.)
(Update in August: Something happened that ruined my tower. There are people employed on floors that are empty, and all the costumes are gone. The only way to get people out (because they can’t be evicted while restocking the nothing) is to guess correctly what I had on every previous floor. I think I’m done with this one forever.) 3/5

March (4):
PC: Spec Ops: The Line - I'm torn over this one, but not for the usual reasons. On the one hand, I would say this was way overrrated, and possibly I would have liked it more if I hadn't heard so much about it in advance. I didn't read any spoilers, just how crazy and twisty and so on it was going to be. On the other hand, I would have never played what appeared to be a generic military shooter if I hadn't heard all that stuff. It reminded me a lot of Bulletstorm, plus some of that Medal of Honor game I played last year about how war isn't good. I love Apocalypse Now, but once I hear we're looking for Col. [C/K]onrad, it's pretty obvious what the story is going to be. It was a good enough value for $2, but maybe a little too ham-handed for me. Saw four endings, two difficulties, all but 2 achievements. 3/5
PC: The Button Affair - Perfectly fine little game for what it is. Uses the phrase “Shut your beak, Victor!” which is excellent. Saw two endings. 3/5
PC: 400 Years - This year's first little web thing to make the list. It's like Das Rad: The Game. Pretty neat. Found two endings, although they weren't as congruous as I might've hoped. 4/5
iOS: Ridiculous Fishing - Nothing wrong with it, but now that I've collected everything, I'll probably never open it again unless there's an update. Saw ending, filled fish-o-pedia, bought all hats. For an indie hat simulator, it's okay, but it's no TF2. Not worth the money, imo. 3/5

April (2):
PC: X-COM: Enemy Unknown - Pretty great. I wanted to be sure to play it since it was one of the most expensive purchases of my holiday season. One victorious run on normal difficulty and exactly one multiplayer match took about 25 hours and earned 32/55 achievements. Bit of an anti-climactic final mission. Might go again, but I probably need a break first so it's not totally infuriating to go back to untrained troops with no gear. 5/5
PC: The Darkness 2 - Pretty lousy. I picked this one up because of all the discussion over in the steam thread when Amazon had it for a couple bucks. All the yip-yap in this game... sheesh. I finished it since I heard it was short, but nothing about the plot was for me at all. Best part was Johnny, when he's telling you about your artifact collection. Just the one ending, on one difficulty, 41/50 achievements. 2/5

June (1):
iOS: Go Round - 99 level matching puzzle game thing on the phone. Basically fine. Fun side-thing to do during a boring movie or open mic or something. 3/5

July (5):
iOS: Chopper - Short little side-scrolling jungle strike kinda game. Some blog pointed out how it was free supposedly as part of the iTMS anniversary sale. Shrug. 2/5
iOS: Mirror's Edge - The story of a girl who will stop at nothing to collect purses. She flips out over 'em. Like the console version, the running around is a lot more fun than the being shot at. The final 'boss' is absurd and inconvenient. This actually was part of the above-mentioned sale. 3/5
PC: Hard Reset (and Exile DLC) - Very old-school shooter with frustrating level design, predicated on not being able to crouch, and the need to cut or restore power to just everything. Essentially 3 enemy units. The 3 or 4 boss battles were especially enjoyable as an alternative to walking down the blue hall. I was excited it was over, but then I was dropped right into the free DLC extension for a couple hours. The Exile DLC comes with one new enemy type, one new boss, orange halls instead of blue, an incredible amount of backtracking, and no more cut-scenes between levels (which is fine, really). At some point I just accepted that there's no actual story explaining why these robots must die, put on All Day, and circle-strafed my way to the unsatisfying conclusion. Started on hard difficulty, quickly dropped to normal after discovering the unevenly spaced checkpoint-only save system. 2/5
iOS: Infinity Blade II - Another item from the iTMS anniversary freebies. Had fun. Finished the plot. Still playing a little, leveling up items and stuff. There are a couple of areas and fights I haven't seen through yet and I want to find out what's there. LATER: I seem to have been to the secret areas, although there are a couple of things I haven't completed, and I would have to play for ages to level up all the gear. I mostly moved on instead. 4/5
PC: Gunpoint - Great writing, fun gameplay, sneaky hidden achievements, and I think I might have to play through it again to see everything, even though I was already doing lots of replaying missions to try alternate dialogue. Of course, most of the time when I get to this point, instead of restarting the game, I simply never play it again. 5/5

August (2)
PS3: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - I am sure this installment is full of technical improvements that I don't really notice since it's been over a year since I played part 1, but I'm pretty sure I liked the first one better. This was mostly fun, and the non-standard levels (trucks, Andy) were neat. I think the 'variety' of locations made it feel less cinematic and more like any old video game that trudges through a typical cycle of scenery. The dialogue is embarrassingly full of clichés. I petted all the yaks. Played on Hard, got about 35% of the treasures, since I still think shiny-hunting is really immersion-busting. Played a little more to find more and rack up some missing gun trophies, but I don't think I enjoyed it enough to want to bother finishing the platinum. Oh, and spoiler: I felt vindicated when the guardians turned out to be guys in suits. I called it when fighting the first one. He just looked like a guy in a suit to me. 4/5
iOS: The Room: Epilogue - This was such a rad ipad treat at the end of the year last year, and it just added a new level, which only added around half an hour, but I ran through the whole thing again. I'm surprised that in 9 months, nobody has copied the premise. I really like exploring around and examining and opening the ornate puzzle boxes. Can't wait for part 2 later this year. 4/5

October (4):
PC: I've been investigating and experimenting with some TWINE games, to test whether I'd want to use the system for something. I'm not sure I want to list them individually here there, since they're often only minutes long, and few have any actual gameplay, per se. But...that's still something to note, besides just racking up the movies below.
iOS: Pixel People - This app is the closest thing I've been to having a virus on my iPhone. The interaction with notification center is atrocious, and the actual design of the app isn't much better. The loading screen is slow and awful and mandatory even when switching between apps rapidly. I liked the idea of combining a time management game with one of the elemental combination games, but the implementation here is truly sub par. All that said, I've collected 271/271 jobs and almost every achievement that doesn't require me to hassle people on facebook. Revisiting my (sadly corrupted) Tiny Tower now makes that game seem so amazingly crisp and responsive and pretty by comparison. Looking forward to Tiny Death Star, I guess. I didn't hate all of the time spent with this game, but I don't really recommend it to anybody. 2/5
iOS: Dinorama - Free app of the week in the app store. Just finished the above time / sim game and looking for a new one. It's cute, but not exactly the same genre. I completed / collected the available content in an afternoon. 3/5
iOS: Pivot - A previous app of the week. It took me a surprisingly long time to understand what the controls actually were, but it was fun to feel the 'level up' once I caught on. This is a game of dexterity. I enjoyed it. 3/5
iOS: Don't Look Back - By Terry Cavenaugh. Short but good. I was surprised that you start over when you leave the app, but I kind of appreciated that, and blasted through parts that I had found tricky while I was learning them, just like it should be with an 8-bit platformer kind of game. We're probably lucky there's infinite lives. 4/5

November (2):
PC: Serious Sam 3 - Fun in co-op, as this series always is, but in some ways this seemed like the least Serious entry yet. It might be the shortest Sam, and I'd say it really doesn't punish you for picking up power-ups the way previous games loved to do. The big bosses didn't seem quite as big, and the L4D2 finale ("fill the gas tank") level seemed out of place. 3/5
360: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions - This was among the more frustrating Spider-Man games to play. A lot of Spider-Man games aren't great, but I really like web-swinging around, so I always check 'em out. But this one was buggy, featured a camera that nobody ever tested with the wall-crawling mechanic, replayed banter clips in the wrong order and often, and just had some odd design choices. It reminded me of this essay about letting the artists design the game instead of designers. On the plus side, a good lineup of villains, and as is often the case in the games, Mysterio as the big baddie. Also, just for fun's sake, it's too bad you have to complete every single thing in the game to get the best costumes. Then there would be no game left in which to wear them, and I'm definitely not replaying the whole thing to get the final achievements to unlock them. 3/5

December (4):
iOS: Halcyon - This is like a match-two game. Just ruined an afternoon or three trying to beat the STARS level, but I did it. I'm like a hero. I liked playing this, and found it easier with a stylus, but I'm so relieved I can stop now. 4/5
iOS: The Room Two - Last night I replayed the whole first game, just in case there was some benefit to having a completed save game on my ipad (which might not make sense with iOS sandboxing, but I'm allowed to hope). By the time I was finished, part two was in the app store. Easily worth the $5, even if the game was a little shorter than I would have liked. Although really, almost any length would have been 'too short.' I appreciate how the game was fundamentally similar to the original, but almost no specific puzzle mechanics were repeated. The multiple tables and boxes in each room were neat, but I haven't made up my mind yet whether I think they made the game more or less difficult than the previous entry. It's a cool and natural extension of the idea, and I liked how, especially in the lab, I really did need a minute to look at everything before I was ready to proceed. But I think that was true before, and there's just something elegant about having one, impossible, apparently bigger on the inside, hellraiser box to slowly coax open. I guess all that's left to do now is hope that there's going to be a part three next year. 5/5
iOS: Final Fantasy:ATB - This is a Final Fantasy game for people who like FF, but hate having to slog through all the story. It's just fights, except for people who don't like having to strategize how to manage their team in a fight. It's for people who just brute force their way through random battle by mashing the A button, but there's no A button, you just drag your finger over the heroes and they hit the bad guys. It is a worthy successor to FF: Mystic Quest. Truly Final Fantasy USA here. It so happens that I reached level 99 and saw the credits and collected all the non-premium heroes, but since you only play for a minute or two at a time, a couple times a day, that's not much of an investment. You can pay $1/ea. for up to 30 recognizable characters from other games, or $10(!!) each for packs of extra levels. I did not. That is completely nuts, crackers, and crazy. 3/5
PS3: Journey - As predicted last year, when replaying this in the new year, I will add it to the list again, even though I've played it before. It could just be because of when I was playing, but it really felt like more of a slog than I remember. In some ways, also shorter than I thought it would be to run through again, maybe because I kind of skipped one area, but it just seemed like a chore. 3/5

Played, enjoyed, but never really end: Left 4 Dead 2, Letterpress, Hero Academy, FTL (well, FTL has an ending, I just can't get to it...), Rock Band 2

Totals: iOS: 18 PC: 9 360:1 PS3: 2
All Games: 30

Another strong showing, and I'm declaring success. Like last year, I finished 30 games, played a lot of at least 5 that never really end, and have recently spent time on another 7 or so that I'm not done with yet. The biggest surprise to me was how much of my gaming turned out to be iOS based this year. I think it comes from the same place that used to make me play another round of L4D2 or Team Fortress 2 instead of spending an hour on a game with a story - wanting to keep the gaming from getting to involving and distracting.

I attempted to participate in the CAG Video Game Spending thread this year, but I gave up because I wasn’t keeping up with it and doing detective work to fill it in didn’t seem worthwhile. Even without the numbers, I suspect I did less collecting this year than last, which is also something of a win. I kept up with the tab all year long, and I beat my scores in a number of areas - More movies, tons more board games, and more stand-up performances. I slipped on books in an embarrassing way, but I bet I'll rebound next year if I can just finish all the books I'm halfway through at the moment.

My Year-End Totals for Various Media (and last year's scores):
Video Games: 30 (30)
Seasons of TV: 24 (30)
New-to-me Movies: 82 (71)
Books!: 7 (11)
Board Games: ~95
Standup: 113 (86)

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